By Kennedy Shelley
Should you eat before you work out?
Bodybuilder types are always arguing about when they need to add protein to build muscles.
Most of the studies of exercise timing and feeding have actually been done on lean athletes.
That leaves out most of us average Joe’s who want to lose weight.
Most of us know that if we exercise after a full meal, it’s going to be hard to get motivated because the body is moving blood to the stomach to help digestion.
But is there any advantage to exercising in a fasted state?
Finally, there is a definitive answer.
It turns out that eating increases the amount of insulin in the body, and this hormone stops fat loss.
As a matter of fact, insulin is the major cause of fat gain.
Increased insulin during exercise makes it difficult for you to burn fat.
This experiment took 30 overweight men. 10 ate breakfast before their workout, 10 after and 10 did whatever they wanted (control).
The study was published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
“Our results suggest that changing the timing of when you eat in relation to when you exercise can bring about profound and positive changes to your overall health,” says Dr. Javier Gonzalez, from the University of Bath’s Department for Health.
Exercising before you eat resulted in burning twice as much fat as the breakfast eaters.
The reason is simple. You fast for eight hours if you are sleeping.
So, your insulin levels are naturally low. Exercising with low insulin allows your body to burn more fat.
And the benefits keep coming.
Muscles that are exercised while fasted respond better to insulin so it better controls sugar spikes in the blood.
Does this translate into weight loss?
There were no significant differences in all the groups as far as changes in the scale were concerned.
But there were differences in body composition.
More muscle, more lean tissue and a metabolism better able to handle insulin happened to those who did not eat breakfast before working out.
So, exercising in the morning helps everyone lose weight.
But when you wait for breakfast until after the workout you get extra benefits of the exercise.
So, you don’t have to work out harder, just do it in a fasted state and you get much more bang for your effort.
Note that the breakfast consumed was a standard high carb breakfast, so future research is going to have to look at the effect of bacon and eggs for breakfast.
But you can see that there are some very real benefits for working out hungry in the morning.
You are going to lose more fat and be metabolically healthier by waiting for breakfast until after going to the gym.
More studies are needed to quantify just how profound the difference is, but this goes along with many people’s self-experiments now that intermittent fasting is becoming more popular.
Try it for yourself.
See if you feel better waiting to eat until after your workout and let others know how you did in the comments below.